Wolgast Blog

Three Common Misconceptions about Design/Build Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on 5/7/2014

Design BuildCompanies that regularly open new locations probably have a lot of experience with construction.  They benefit from having established drawings to help design the next store and a familiarity with contractors, and, therefore, are a good fit for General Construction services to complete their buildings.  On the other hand, business owners who are unfamiliar with construction and don’t have relationships with professional contractors would benefit more from having a Design/Builder on their team.  This is because Design/Build perks include faster completion, a single-source to contact for all project needs, and the ability to judge which subcontractors offer the best value for their project.

Even though we can recognize that the Design/Build method would match the needs of some clients better than General Construction, there’s sometimes resistance due to the following misconceptions:

1)       Less competition will drive the price up – since there is only one entity controlling the project, there will be less competition.  We could argue that Design/Build is the ultimate method to get the best/lowest price for construction services because the Design/Builder seeks more bids and gets better bid coverage from a larger field of subcontractors than a General Contractor would.  This is partially due to the time available from a Design/Build stand point versus General Construction.  Plans and portions of plans are shared earlier in a Design/Build scenario, so there’s more time to get better bid coverage and, therefore, the Design/Builder will have all of the prices, including a culmination of the lowest ones.  Bidding on a General Construction project typically narrows the bid time and, so the GC only gets bids from a select few subcontractors and it’s unlikely one GC will have gotten all the lowest numbers. 

2)      The cost for Phase I Design is an extra expense that I don’t have to pay in General Construction – this isn’t entirely true.  When a business owner hires an architect, they pay for the plans to be created in entirety, so the General Contractor can then take them to bid and determine the price to build.  Phase I of the Design/Build method establishes preliminary drawings for a nominal fee with enough information to get a preliminary budget, so a business owner can take the information to the bank for financing.  While the budget is not exact, it’s in the ballpark.  The Phase I price is only included as a line item at the end of the project, it isn’t something that an owner will have to pay upfront—unless they don’t go through with the project.  Should that happen, then the owner is invoiced for the nominal fee to cover the expense of the architectural services and bidding operational expenses.  Typically, a Design/Builder’s architectural fees are less than an outside Architect because it’s a part of the service and not a profit center in and of itself.

3)      It’s risky to put all of your eggs in one basket – checks and balances are always good to have, especially when making a large investment such as a commercial or manufacturing building.  Design/Builders have the same checks and balances internally, plus open communication to identify challenges earlier, and a contract to deliver the building to the owner the way that they expect, in the time expected, and for the price expected.  Having a reputable, single-source provider for both design and construction saves the business owner the hassle of coordinating construction activities or getting questions answered quickly as the Design/Builder becomes the advocate for the business owner to oversee the proper construction of their building (the way it was contracted to be). 

As you can see, Design/Build has many benefits to offer busy business owners or those who are inexperienced in construction.  Wolgast’s Design/Build team, including staff Architect-Rick Keith, has professionally managed projects for business owners throughout the state of Michigan.  In these projects, we’ve designed beautiful buildings, accurately provided a budgetary number, created the documentation to take to the bank, gotten comprehensive bid coverage from qualified subcontractors, constructed the building, completed the punch list, concluded project close outs, maintained a one-year warranty and checked in at the 1st birthday of the building for many of the happiest clients you could imagine.  After all, it’s our reputation that’s at stake and we don’t ever take that lightly.

Find out more about the advantages of Design/Build over Design/Bid/Build in our White Paper: Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should.  Click on the image below to download.

 Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should

Also read:  Top Benefits of Single Source Responsibility Construction, and How Much Will a Phase I Save Me in Architectural Costs?

Tags: Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Design, Good for Business

Construction Tips for Auto Dealerships

Posted by Cory Sursely on 2/19/2014

Auto Service CenterCurrently, many Michigan auto dealers are feeling varying degrees of pressure from auto manufacturers to modernize their stores, some of which have never been renovated since they were originally built 50 years ago.  While remodeling can be an expensive investment in your business, there are several benefits that go along with the improvements.

We want to share with dealers what they can expect and tips about their reimage:

  1. You can stay open during most or all of construction activity.  We understand that service is the key to your success whether that is your sales team meeting with customers or your service team working on cars.  Through phases of construction and flexibility, you’ll be able to maintain business (almost) as usual.  We discuss this further in our blog, ”Staying Open During Construction”. 
  2. You’ll have to work closely with corporate and their architect to create a design that matches their requirements.  Our architect, Rick Keith, is highly experienced in deciphering the brand requirements and creating a design to keep costs low for the owner.
  3. You can look forward to your service area being spruced up with nicer service drive lanes and service write up areas in a separate, quieter environment.  This change will provide a more relaxed atmosphere for customers.
  4. Many reimage programs can be costly, but the good news is that the construction costs can be depreciated for federal income tax purposes.  You may want to consult with your tax advisor on ways to maximize the depreciation including a cost segregation study.
  5. Being under construction draws attention to your business and you’ll likely attract customers into your dealership just to see the changes once construction is complete

As more information becomes available about manufacturer’s programs, Wolgast will be right there with you (as we have done for all our automotive dealer clients) to determine what's needed to get the job done right, economically and swiftly.  Please call us if you have questions or when you’re ready to start your reimage, 800-965-4278 (800-WOLGAST).

Tags: Design/Build, Scheduling, Auto Dealers

Ample Estimating Time Can Lower Price of Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on 11/11/2013

Another Money Saving Tip for Construction Clients

TimeObviously, planning a construction project doesn’t happen overnight.  In most cases, the client has a set occupancy date when construction has to be completed either to satisfy a contract they have acquired or to meet their seasonal market (to name two).  During that construction project time frame, planning through completed project, there are five main activities that need to take place, which include design, cost estimating, obtaining regulatory approval, acquiring materials and construction. 

Because design is so important to get right before a shovel ever touches the dirt, it can sometimes take a little longer than expected with multiple revisions for some clients.  On the other end construction has to start by a certain date, so field operations will push to have materials ordered and permits in hand quickly, otherwise the building won’t be ready for that set occupancy date.  So what gets “crunched” in the middle?  The cost estimating, or in other words, the part that affects your pocketbook the most.

In any given industry, all business men or women are looking to cover their costs and make a certain profit.  Similarly, contractors in the construction industry are certainly trying to cover their costs and have high hopes that they may make a profit on any given project, therefore, when they aren’t given enough time to estimate the cost of materials and labor, they tend to round up to make sure that they at least cover their costs involved.  The guesswork created by this time crunch can make the price of the project inflated.  Alternatively, when subcontractors have enough time to determine the exact cost of materials needed and plan for the manpower it will take to cover the work, they’re able to feel more comfortable estimating exactly what their cost and profit will be and are then able to provide a more accurate, un-inflated price.  All subcontractors prefer to bid when there is adequate time to provide a safer, more satisfactory and competitive bid for all parties involved.

Estimating is a process with many steps.  Once the design is established (or in the case of Design/Build-- mostly established), the general contractor issues the plans to three or more subcontractors to request their bids on each trade.  The trades then in turn estimate the amount of material needed and make contact with their vendors and suppliers for the current cost of materials. Then the vendors need time to estimate their costs and provide a hard number to their subcontractor.  The subcontractor also looks at the plans to estimate the staff and hours needed to do their portion of the work.  Simultaneously, the subcontractor is most likely pricing several jobs at one time while trying to manage their work load.

Therefore, factoring in all the different trades involved in any given building project, allowing more time for bidding/estimating process to secure those hard, accurate numbers, a building owner can possibly save themselves tens-of-thousands of dollars.  So, it’s in every potential or current building owner’s best interest to start planning their construction projects early and prevent the time crunch during estimating.

Tags: Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Good for Business, Risk Management

Construction Scheduling for Dental Offices

Posted by Cory Sursely on 10/24/2013

Continually meet with patients throughout construction

DentistScheduleDentists sometimes put off improvements to their building space due to the anticipated disruption of their business.  Determining how to remodel their office or relocate to a new space when a practice can’t survive without an active patient load can feel like a big risk.  However, I’m here to tell you that it's possible to remodel, renovate or relocate with minimal impact to your practice when you use a professional contractor.

Whether it’s a new location or an occupied building, scheduling and flexibility are the keys to keeping a dentist office running smoothly through construction.  Because a dentist practice can’t survive very well without activley seeing patients, determining a schedule and a plan prior to construction makes it possible to avoid a detrimental office shut down.

Scheduling for the renovation or addition to an occupied building requires more coordination, but is possible for a dentist to keep seeing patients.  A schedule for this type of construction will include phases to keep half of the exam rooms open at a given time, time for temporary construction of make-shift clean rooms to allow for exam or treatment space, or possibly after-hours construction activity.  Flexibility of the dental practice to adjust patient flow and equipment relocation is necessary for the project to run smoothly and quickly.  Open communication is helpful, too, as the project goes on.  Any important events happening within the practice should be discussed with your on-site project supervisor as soon as possible, so they can create or adjust for the space needed.  All of this is done with the final end date in mind.

Of course building a new location that is unoccupied is easier to coordinate with only the end date to consider, however the end date is a very serious matter.  With the coordination of the move, ribbon cuttings, grand openings and other promotions, as well as keeping up your patient visits, meeting that final date is critical to the future of any dentist’s business.  A professional contractor should be able to guarantee they will meet that date.

We rely on the dentist and their staff to help us during the schedule planning phase because it's difficult to guess what their needs will be during construction.  As we go through the thought process of how to achieve open, clean space, the dentist and project team are able to pinpoint where and when it will be needed.  It also helps us create the most time efficient schedule to get the practice up and running quicker.

For more information on how we can efficiently design and build your dental practice with a guaranteed completion date, please contact Dr. Michael Shepard at 800-965-4278 or mshepard@wolgast.com.



Tags: Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Safety on Site, Dental Office Construction

Construction Safety on School Grounds

Posted by Cory Sursely on 4/24/2012


We’ve all heard that with great power comes great responsibility, but it’s especially true with the power equipment and tools used on school construction sites.  Student safety becomes a big deal as School Districts continue to make updates and renovate their existing/occupied buildings.  It’s a big deal also due to the increase of “strangers” who enter the school grounds to work on a construction project.  This is demonstrated by the increasing efforts of schools to qualify visitors before they’re allowed to enter school buildings.

Construction is considered one of the most challenging professions in the world.  With the equipment, variety of activities, and falling/tripping factors, it’s easy to see why construction is heavily regulated to keep workers and site visitors safe.  When we work on an occupied building, it’s safe to say that safety becomes a broader concern.  By following MIOSHA regulations and having safety plans, manuals, meetings and policies (as we do for every project), a construction site becomes very predictable and safe for anyone who may step onto it, including school kids.  On all projects, our Field Managers take great care to see that safety measures are met and at the end of the day sites are left in a manner that prohibits curious people from entering it or possibly hurting themselves.  Additionally, our Field Managers are required to maintain CPR and first aid certifications and Wolgast upholds zero tolerance for any substance abuse, which is supported by pre-employment and random drug testing for all employees.

Safety concerns don’t end with construction related activities.  We tend to the security of students in the building, too by using ID badges.  Badges are only issued to those individuals authorized to be on the job site.  We use these badges to help ensure that only people with a legitimate, project related purpose are granted access to the job site.

Admittedly, Wolgast has selfish reasons to be safe.  First and foremost, we appreciate having our co-workers and friends report to work healthy and happy every morning.  Secondarily, an excellent safety record and reputation helps us obtain future work and keeps insurance rates down.  We take it very seriously because safety never hurts!

We offer more information about how to avoid risky business during your construction project in the white paper Risk Management the Wolgast Way.

Also read: How Technology Updates Change Schools and Four Steps for School Boards to Plan a Construction Project


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Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Safety on Site, Risk Management

Tips for moving into your new Medical/Dental Office

Posted by Cory Sursely on 8/19/2011

AMoving into your new officesSo your new medical/dental office is about ready to be moved into, are you ready? Here are some experienced helpful tips from Wolgast to make the move go easy and not impact you or your employees in a negative way.

First off, remember to get your Medicare and Medicaid paperwork submitted right away so that the government is aware of your change of address and there are no issues that arise with the government. Not getting this information processed on time can lead to a billing gap and we have seen instances where doctors and dentists have lost out on months’ worth of revenue because paperwork was not processed on time.

Next, remember medical record privacy when packing up the patient files. These records need to be packed and moved such that security and only authorized access to them occurs. This may take some special planning but being aware of your HIPAA requirements when transporting and moving records could save you a tangle of paperwork and bureaucratic headaches.  If you are moving electronic files too then you need to treat the computer hardware and backup data with the same respect as you would give moving paper files.

Remember to have your information technology support people out early on the day of the move to ensure that computers can talk to each other, files have been transferred or transported safely, and that electronic medical records (EMRs) and digital imaging equipment (like the new digital xray machines) are connected, networked, and ready to go.  Expect a few glitches that first day and plan ahead by having a service technician there as each system is tried out.

For the general move, start preparing at least two months prior to the move date and make sure everyone knows what they are responsible for packing and unpacking. Your movers can give you an estimate of how much moving materials you will want to purchase. If you start purchasing a few months early you can pace that expense over several months and potentially save money by not over purchasing supplies at the last minute.

Lastly, taking the time to plan ahead and plan early lets everyone finish on time with a minimum amount of rushing. Then sit back and let the movers do the work, discourage employees from moving boxes or equipment themselves as they may injure themselves doing the work. An injured employee won’t be there to help unpack and may actually cause you to have more bills due to their medical treatment for pulls, strains, or sprains. Before you know it you will be moved in and up and running in your new facility.

Also read: Using Your Building as a Marketing Tool and Investigating Ancillary Services for Your Practice (A White Paper)


Medical Services


Tags: Medical Office Construction, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Safety on Site, Dental Office Construction

How to Expedite the Construction Process

Posted by Cory Sursely on 8/12/2011

construction-planningWe hear it quite often from business owners once they decide to build a building–they needed it yesterday.  We understand that once the need for the new building is determined how important it is to get the owner moved in quickly.

While the architectural phase can sometimes take months, it can often be shortened when the owner stays in contact with the architect and makes decisions quickly.  We recognize that most of the decisions are big decisions that an owner has to make because they aren’t easily changeable once they’re decided.  Trusting your architect and continually discussing what you want from the building will help this process flow smoothly.

An experienced contractor will lead you through your project faster with extensive planning and scheduling prior to construction.  During the planning stage, permits and long lead items can be ordered so they will arrive prior to their scheduled need.  Nothing slows down a project more than waiting for permits because nothing can happen on site until they are obtained.  Occasionally, an owner may want a specific aesthetic item to incorporate into the building, so it’s best if they coordinate with their contractor to determine when those items need to be available to be installed most efficiently.  We had an owner who wanted a specific chandelier installed in their meeting room, but it was a long lead item requiring nine months for delivery.  In that case, we came back after the fact to install it.

It also saves time on a project when the contractor is on the same team as the architect, like in a Design/Build construction delivery method.  The D/B team can create a design that uses components which lend themselves to an expedited schedule.  Additionally, this method allows for open communication between the contractor and the architect so that a project can start even before the plans are complete.  In many cases, once the plans are complete site work and foundations can be constructed at the same time saving on the schedule.  In other instances, site work can start even before the plans are complete because the architect can provide the information on the location of the building on the site even if he’s still adjusting the finishing touches of the design. 

Another means for saving time is prepping a staging area to receive materials when they arrive.  As you can imagine, there are some large materials and supplies that are needed to construct a building, so having to find man power to handle where to place these large items each time they’re delivered wouldn’t be the most efficient use of staff time.  Therefore, Wolgast creates this staging area as one of their first priorities of each project.

Wolgast has built a reputation for being one of the speediest contractors in the state.  We continually implement systems that speed up our design and construction process and we will put the same emphasis on completing your project quickly, too.

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Tags: Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Design